Sorting the Ser Whatsits of Whocares (Part 1)
For book readers, last night’s episode was a wonderfully frustrating tease for what’s to come. Every scene had me clapping my hands with excitement because all this awesome stuff that I’d read about is starting to roll out on the screen. But it was all over so fast not any one of the story lines really started to pick up steam and develop. For non book readers, it was probably an overwhelming amount of new characters and information without context and, like Bronn, you might be inclined to call people ‘Ser Whatsit of Whocares’ instead of their actual names. It’s my goal to explain in a non spoilery way just who was introduced and why you should pay attention. This article should be safe for non-book readers who wish to avoid spoilers, but I will be explaining things like house names, house words, geography, and various mystical elements associated with the new characters. I will not, however, be telling you what’s going to happen to them. Click on links at your own risk, though.
Let’s start off with Jojen and Meera Reed. In the books they were introduced much earlier and, like all the children in the series, they were a whole lot younger. They are Crannogmen, a group of swamp people led by House Reed of Greywater Watch. Their father, Howland Reed, is the current Lord of the swamps and marshland on the Neck just north of the Twins. You remember the Twins, right? That was the bridge held by House Frey that Robb had to enter a marriage pacts with in order to use. Yeah, those guys. The Reeds have a long standing feud with the them, but the Frey’s are unable to find Greywater Watch in the swamps so it doesn’t really amount to much as far as actual war goes. The Reeds are also fiercely loyal to the Starks, something you may have been able to pick up on when Jojen is talking to Bran about their fathers.
The Crannogmen are often looked down on by other Westerosi people. They’re called “frog-eaters” and “mud-men,” It should be obvious by the way that Jojen discusses magic like Wargs and Greenseers so casually that they aren’t exactly uptight about the magic thing. The North already has a reputation for being a bit wild, but the Crannogmen take that reputation to a whole new level. It’s said that the Crannogmen grew very close to the Children of the Forest, a primitive race of humanoids that inhabited Westeros thousands of years ago and are currently believed to be extinct. The history of the Crannogmen and Children of the Forest is fascinating, but some of it may be revealed in the narrative of the show so I’m going to halt their tale there for now.
Another group of characters that show viewers should take note of is House Bolton. There’s Roose Bolton, the rather gruff looking fellow who’s been hanging out with Robb Stark. In the most recent episode he had the honor delivering the messages from both Winterfell and Riverrun that totally ruined the Stark’s day and made Catelyn cry. Yeah, I know, don’t shoot the messenger, but it seems like whenever he’s on screen something really sad is happening. Then again, being at war isn’t a very cheery thing to begin with, but he just seems like an extra depressing sack of a man. I don’t think I’ve seen him or anyone in his presence smile (well, Lady Talisa was smiling with he interrupted her snog fest with Robb, but that hardly counts). We’ve also heard about Bolton’s bastard, Ramsay, who was en route to save Winterfell from Theon Greyjoy. Word from Winterfell states that they were too late and that Theon had already burned Winterfell to the ground by the time they arrived.
While all the other houses have lions, wolves, flowers, and fish for their sigils, House Bolton sports the Flayed Man. To quote Jaimie Lannister, it’s “a bit gruesome.” They got that sigil because, well, they like to do that to people. Like the Reeds, House Bolton is currently sworn to House Stark, but it wasn’t always this way. For a long time the Bolton’s had the habit of capturing Stark Lord’s, flaying them, and either hanging their skins in their stronghold, the Dreadfort, or wearing them as cloaks. Yeah. They sure are the life of the party, aren’t they? Gross. They say they don’t flay people anymore, but, well, if you’re watching the show it should be kind of obvious that that’s not entirely true.
One of the most anticipated new characters was Lady Olenna, the “Queen of Thorns.” She’s blunt, sassy, and honest. She knows what she wants and has no problem telling it just how it is. Lady Olenna is by far my favorite character introduced in A Storm of Swords. It appears that the political gene may only be tied to the X chromosome in House Tyrell as Margaery’s father (Olenna’s son) is apparently full of a lot of fail when it comes to politics whereas Olenna and Magaery wield a ton of power. Somehow they are managing to make the rather sudden shift from supporting Renly to supporting the Lannister’s work. They could very easily have been dubbed traitors and executed for it, but instead Margaery is marrying the King. Now that is some political skill right there.
North of the wall we met Orell, a Warg who’s scouting in the body of an eagle for the wildlings. The concept of Wargs has already been introduced with Bran and Jojen, but we don’t really get to see one going all white eyed until we meet Orell. In the books Orell was killed in the confrontation between Ygritte’s group and Jon Snow, but he hasn’t even been introduced until after Jon has defected to their side on the show. It’s possible that he’s been merged with another character, Varamyr, who helped scout for the Wildlings in a A Storm of Swords. We’ve already deviated from canon at this point since Orell is still alive and some of the behaviors of Varamyr were directly related to how Orell died so I’m expecting it to be quite different. Either way, Wargs are fascinating and this is a character you should definitely pay attention to if the magic on the show is your thing.
We also get to meet the Brotherhood without Banners. Arya, Gendry, and Hotpie make for a really fun ragtag crew of wandering misfits already, but now they’ve stumbled across the very group of people that everyone at Harrenhal was being tortured over. Their angle is pretty self explanatory. “The Lords of Westeros want to burn the countryside. We’re trying to save it.” What we know of them so far is pretty minimal, but trust me, this is a group you’re going to want to pay attention to. Thoros of Myr is the only one we know by name at this point, but I have a feeling I’ll be coming back to the other members of the Brothers Without Banners in future posts. They are quite a complicated bunch.
This concludes part one of Sorting the Ser Whatsit of Whocares. I plan on going back even further and tackling the first episode of the season later and possibly even writing about the next episode, depending on just who they introduce this weekend. Stay tuned.